This week we dove deep into our new instruments of music and of math.
We spent hours at a time exploring the abacus - each child in their own time having that spark, that moment when the visual of the beads and the concepts of place values suddenly came together. It was truly magical to watch. The excitement grew exponentially as another child began to understand how to count up to…one BILLION on the abacus. They could pair off once they grasped the concept, and challenge each other by placing beads on their own abacus and having their partner figure out the number. Some children went up to the 100’s, some went to the 1000’s, and everyone wanted to keep playing. This coming week we’ll take it further and start working through all four math functions using the abacus. Using integrative math, the beginning takes a slower pace, as they children understand the numbers through song, movement, and stories. With all four math functions together, they are approaching the system as a whole from the start. As I observe their experience through this systems approach, when a new element/tool is introduced the learning accelerates at a significant pace. When they are ready, when they have a foundation, and when their own creativity is part of the process, this is where great change occurs, and it is powerful to see.
In a similar way, the children have taken to their musical instruments rapidly and with such passion. They added two more chords on the ukulele this week - C7 and F - and are strumming away as they sing together. The patterns in the notes, the scales, and the relationships between the notes is quite mathematical and is arriving at an opportune time as the children grasp these concepts together. We wrote thank-you cards to the “Ukuladies” and their words to express their gratitude, along with beautiful images of themselves playing their instrument, were so poignant. Perhaps in the spring we can invite the “Ukuladies” to a performance…
We reviewed telling time this week, using our clock and our 5’s tables, and writing out the different ways we see the time out in the world. The children worked on their creative writing pieces, some of them beginning to write in their hardcover books, others going deeper in their plot lines and character development. They worked in their reading groups, and continued their workshop with Laura on what it means to “judge” someone else and how to make others feel comfortable as they prepare for interviewing.
We harvested nettles, some experimenting with tasting raw nettle leaves which they agreed tasted very much like cucumber. Not only have they no fear of being stung by a stinging nettle, they are happy to put those leaves right into their mouths:) If a child happened to get a sting, a group created a “hospital” at the far end of the nettle patch where they gathered mullein, plantain and dock leaves with which they made bandaids and compresses for their classmates. We feasted on “crispy nettles” and brought some to Rachael’s on Thursday where we made nettle sourdough rolls.
On Thursday we spent the beautiful fall day at Rachael’s, where we dipped our foraged foliage in beeswax, took a lovely walk through the meadow looking for winterberries (not a great year for winterberries it turns out!), and made pulled venison with Gaby. The children also practiced their play, and said a bittersweet farewell to our dear friend Astrolis! (Take a look at him this week in the last photo, with his hen, Scorpius, whom he named while she was still in her egg, and became our first hatched chick all the way back in February)
It looks like a bit of a rainy week ahead, so be sure to send along rain gear and extra clothes and boots!
See you tomorrow,
The Allen Farm program is for children ages six and older. Follow along our learning and exploration in the woods, on the farm, in our yurt, and across our island community, at the upper Woods School.